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Don’t Like Betsy DeVos? Blame the Democrats


Don’t Like Betsy DeVos? Blame the Democrats.

Diane Ravitch

Of all the corrupt, unqualified, and extremist characters Donald Trump has tapped to lead his administration, none has generated the tsunami of liberal outrage whipped up by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.


With all due (of my considerable) respect (for you), Dr. Ravitch, let's remember also to keep the battles of textbook selection and curriculum manipulation (and others) at the forefront of the education stage. The great detractors--and there are many--get those of us who care so deeply for the opportunity to learn--perhaps the most important component of freedom--to play a game of "whack a mole" over the latest (recycled) issue. We need to be legion and comprehensive in opposition.


Thank you for the reminder. Ain't a dimes worth of difference, Hoss- Waylon Jennings


Let's give credit where credit is due. Ralph Nader called these two parties "tweedle dee and tweedle dumb". No truer statement has been said. They will not give up their cash cows.

Dumb the democrats and all you progressive out there within that party start your own with Bernie at the helm.

This country needs a restart and people who have not forgotten history but people who have learned from history and will not continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Break the insanity of these two parties.


I like your post except the part about Bernie. You Bernie people need to get it through your heads: Bernie is a DeFacto Democrat, beholden to the War Profiteers, a Servant of the Empire, a 'team-player,' 'sheepdog,' etc. He will not go over to the Greens, or Socialists, or whatever. And if he starts a new party, it will be, like the Democrats, yet another version of the Republican party. Bernie supporters are like Hillary supporters...you are in love with a fantasy, like a WW2 POW in love with his Betty Grable poster.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts and you maybe right but maybe wrong. That's a song.


Yes from Clinton through Obama they joined the problem and paved the way for no child left with a behind.

Democrats to public education have been too often too unkind.

Testing placed before teaching, just blows my mind.



Nicely written, Ms. Ravitch. The sad thing to me is that so many of the DINOs... the enablers of the destruction of public education like Sen. Michael Bennet, protest so loudly when the logical end to their past efforts is brought about. Maybe it's not even for just for show (though the cynic in me suspects this)....instead, maybe they're just incapable of associating actions with outcomes.

In any case, I'm not sure how they can walk back that sordid past without an honest self-reflection and apology to all those teachers, kids and families they will have hurt.


I believe the song is RISE by Public Image Ltd. featuring John Lydon (who used to be Rotten).


Although all of the charges leveled against the Obama regime in this article are true, Obama simply expanding on Dubya's no child left a dime program (that Ravitch was charged with implementing) that gave privatization of education the momentum it needed to achieve the travesties delineated in this article.


That's pretty close but I believe the song by the group PIL says something different: "I could be right, I could be wrong.." Not 'you' and no thanks for sharing. It's a good song but maybe not the one that was quoted? And just to clarify, he was Johnny Rotten when he was with the Sex Pistols. Ah yes, those were the (rotten) days.


I've come to really appreciate Diane Ravitch and find her criticism of the so-called 'reforms' to be very accurate. She came from being an insider to a staunch critic and because she once was a supporter, I think may help in addressing the issues.


With all due respect to Ms Ravitch's come to Jesus moment, I blame her and the repugs for the current mess. All the nonsense of running a school like a business originated during her tenure. The dems are just too bought off to do anything that would help.


Hello Diane, Two questions. One, how in the world did your former Sec. of Ed. Alexander (R) Sen. Tennessee vote for Devos to be Sec. of Ed.? Two, how is it going to work out when a student graduates from AT&T Verizon Charter School, for example, then applies for entrance to Harvard, or any good university for that matter? Going to be interesting, the future in higher ed.


Where's race in this?

Black families in many areas strongly support school choice, because the public schools in their naighborhoods are crap and they want their kids to at least have a shot at making a life for themselves, which is perfectly understandable. Democrats rely on these voters and represent them, and so they also support school choice, which is far, far easier than addressing the real issue, which is only marginally about bad schools but is definitely about poverty and all the stresses that causes, including one of the great predictors of school failure: how many times a student's family moves during a school year.


And there's the truth. The Democrats are terrified that their voter base might get into real schools and learn to be self-sufficient and productive rather than fully dependent on government hand-outs.


To be fair, Diane Ravitch admitted - in 2010 - that she was wrong about public school “reform” (testing, charters, school “choice” and No Child Left Behind). Ravitch noted that she paid attention to the evidence, and the evidence convinced her that “corporate-style” reform was not only ineffectual but harmful, and she has worked to undo it.

But let’s step back in time a bit.

‘A Nation at Risk’ - put out by the Reagan administration - warned that a "rising tide of mediocrity" threatened American national security. It directly linked “educational performance” to economic growth and prosperity. And it made a litany of accusations - “educational dimensions of the risk “ - directed at public schools. But they weren’t true.

‘A Nation at Risk’ was published at the very same time that Reagan was piling up supply-side deficits and debt. Because the administration was borrowing so much money, the value of the dollar spiked 40 percent, imports boomed, exports were severely hurt, and the national trade deficit ballooned. The national unemployment rate was nearly 10 percent. In essence, rather than blame idiotic economic policies, the Reagan administration pointed the finger at the schools.

There was a problem though, a fly in the ointment. ’A Nation at Risk’ was undermined by The Sandia Report, which was formally titled, ‘Perspectives on Education in America.” The report was “completed in 1990” during the first Bush administration, but it came at a time of recession and right after George H.W. Bush’s 1989 education summit, which - as Education Week reported - led to the push for “educational standards and accountability” that were “necessary” to “ensure that the United States remained economically competitive.”

Here’s how Tienken and Orlich (‘The School Reform Landscape: Fraud, Myths and Lies,’ 2013) put it:

“The Republican White House needed a scapegoat and the public education system, once again, was there for the chiding. Bush needed to pin the recession on something other than faulty trickle-down economic policy. The fraud perpetrated in ‘A Nation at Risk’ worked once before, and members of the administration saw a way to recycle the argument of a weak economy caused by a supposedly poor education system.”

The Sandia Report “was conducted by the Sandia National Laboratory at the request of then secretary of energy Admiral James Watkins.” The report was chock full of data, and it concluded that

  • "..on nearly every measure we found steady or slightly improving trends."

  • "youth today [the 1980s] are choosing natural science and engineering degrees at a higher rate than their peers of the 1960s."

  • "business leaders surveyed are generally satisfied with the skill levels of their employees, and the problems that do exist do not appear to point to the k-12 education system as a root cause."

  • "The student performance data clearly indicate that today's youth are achieving levels of education at least as high as any previous generation."

As Tienken and Orlich note, “the report was suppressed by deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education Dave Kearns. The late Gerald Bracey pointed out numerous times that the Sandia researchers were told by “ Kearns, former CEO of Xerox, ‘You bury this or I'll bury you.’ “ The Sandia researchers said the report “was definitely suppressed." However, Diane Ravitch has repeatedly said the report was not “suppressed” by the Department of Education – where she was the head of the Office of Educational Research and Improvement. But it was. And it matters. As Berliner and Biddle put it in 'The Manufactured Crisis' (1995), "The trouble with suppressing evidence is that it leads to policy errors that can ruin people's lives..."

(Sadly, Ravitch still denies there was any effort to suppress the Sandia Report: https://dianeravitch.net/2014/08/24/sarah-garland-how-a-reagan-era-report-provides-the-basis-for-obamas-education-policies/#comments)

It matters because ‘A Nation at Risk’ and standards-based reform set in motion the test-craze-mania that has characterized public education for the last twenty-five years. It matters because the fraud and the myths and the lies still serve as the foundation for the latest iteration of “reform,” the Common Core. It matters because groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable have resurrected the “economic competitiveness” falsity from ‘A Nation at Risk.’ The fraud and the myths and the lies - and the policy errors - did, indeed, ruin many people's lives, and they've done a pretty fair job of harming public education in America.

Diane Ravitch said in an interview that "All I want is to try to die with a clear conscience. I want to feel that I've set the record straight in terms of what I believe and where I erred."

As I stated, I appreciate what Diane Ravitch has done to help promote public education, and to expose the lies and the myths about it. Clearly, school “reform” has lost its way. Ravitch was a key player when the misdirection took place.

Ravitch is no longer a “conservative reformer.” But when it mattered most, when she might have leveraged governmental authority against conservative school reforms, she pushed them. Public schools are still in recovery, and it’s not going particularly well.


Umm, yeah, that's not what I said at all.

And where are these terriific handouts I keep hearing about? Seems like, with such fantastic gov't largesse, there shouldn't be any poverty at all in the USA, but we all know that's not the case, so tell me please about these secret gov't handouts, because I'd like to get some for myself. Heck, I'd love to quit working and have the gov't send me loads o' cash!

I'm not kidding, actually. What are these great programs? SNAP? TANF? Are those what you mean?